The Power of Bad Habits

You may say, “I am allowed to do anything.” But I reply, “Not everything is good for you.” And even though ‘I am allowed to do anything,’ I must not become a slave to anything. — 1 Corinthians 6:12 (NLT)

An athletic young man stood before his peers. An ordinary piece of sewing thread was cut from a spool and wrapped once around his torso and arms and tied. He was asked to break free from the thread. Like a young Samson in training, he easily broke the thread that bound him. The young man’s peers teased him, “Oooooohhhhhhh,” they chided, in chorus.

A longer piece of thread was wrapped around the young man. This time the thread was wrapped around his body three times. The young man, again, was asked to break free from his bonds. This time, it took real effort on the young man’s behalf, but he broke free of the threads. Again, his friends mockingly cheered, “Woohoo!” The young man struck a body-builders’ pose in response.

Finally, one last, long piece of thread was cut from the spool and wrapped around the young man. This time, the thread was wrapped a dozen times around his body. But this time, as he tried to break free, he struggled and struggled. His friends cheered him on. Soon, the cheers turned to laughter. This young man could not break the thread and finally gave up.

This story can serve as a good warning to us about the power of bad habits. Bad habits are formed by repetition. Like a body wrapped in a single thread, negative or destructive behaviors are not that difficult to stop. Yet, just as multiple threads are increasingly more difficult to break free of, as behaviors are repeated, bad habits become more and more difficult to stop — and have more and more power over our desires and choices.

Don’t be misled that a negative or destructive behavior isn’t a big deal. If you aren’t careful, that bad habit just may wrap you up in such a way that makes it very difficult to break free.

1. What habits have you formed that you are finding difficult to break? What steps can you take to help you escape?

2. Why do we allow ourselves to develop bad habits, even when we know they are harmful?

Romans 6:11-18; Galatians 5:1; Philippians 4:13; James 1:13-15

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Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, editor, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord Culture Blog also appears on Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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